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    What is the Purpose of the Postiv?

    One thing that i need to admit, is that I am not in the business to become a church organist but studying church organs and its architecture has been an interesting and well worth study, however, i never under stood the concept of a Postiv? what does it do in relation to the entire tonal scheme that is laid out before the organ, that a small division makes an impact on the tonal scheme at hand? can someone explain.
    Instruments:
    22/8 Button accordion.

    #2
    In Baroque organ music, the Positiv is the foil to the Great. When you want a change in color, as in some Bach music where you may have a phrase or section repeated, you would go from the Great to the Positiv to get a lighter and/or slightly softer sound. Also, in many organ installations where the organ is installed on a balcony, the Positiv is installed on or in front of the balcony rail, thus being closer to the listener. In this case, the Positiv can "'solo out" a melody line, with the Great providing the accompaniment with less than full Chorus.

    Some organs will have a Choir manual instead of Positiv. The two are not necessarily interchangeable, as a Choir will tend to be more for accompaniment to, say, solos on the Great or Swell. I am substituting on an organ this Sunday that has both Positiv and Choir, and they are very different animals indeed.
    Mike

    My home organ is a circa 1990 Galanti Praeludium III, with Wicks/Viscount CM-100 module supplying extra voices. I also have an Allen MDS Theatre II (princess pedalboard!) with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by m&m's View Post
      In Baroque organ music, the Positiv is the foil to the Great. When you want a change in color, as in some Bach music where you may have a phrase or section repeated, you would go from the Great to the Positiv to get a lighter and/or slightly softer sound. Also, in many organ installations where the organ is installed on a balcony, the Positiv is installed on or in front of the balcony rail, thus being closer to the listener. In this case, the Positiv can "'solo out" a melody line, with the Great providing the accompaniment with less than full Chorus.

      Some organs will have a Choir manual instead of Positiv. The two are not necessarily interchangeable, as a Choir will tend to be more for accompaniment to, say, solos on the Great or Swell. I am substituting on an organ this Sunday that has both Positiv and Choir, and they are very different animals indeed.
      Thanks for the clarification.
      Instruments:
      22/8 Button accordion.

      Comment


        #4
        In the beginning there was just one manual, which became the "Great" or main division. A second division seemed like it would be useful, and builders gave it a lighter sound than the main division--there was no point to make it the same as the Great division. In England this became the "Chair" organ, so-called because it was positioned to the back of the organist, behind his chair. The word was corrupted to become "Choir". In Germany, the "Chair" was called the "Ruck-Positiv", meaning back position.

        Over time use of the divisions has changed, so the Choir in some organs is more of an accompaniment division (as m&ms's indicates) and the Positiv more of a Baroque sounding division.

        Comment


          #5
          Another thing to note is that a Positiv will often be pitched an octave higher than the Great or Hauptwerk. For instance, if the main division of the organ has a principal chorus that has a 16' base (lowest sounding stop of diapason tone), then the Positiv would have a base of 8' tone. Similarly, if the base is at 8' pitch, then the Positiv would have a principal at 4' pitch, but no 8' stop. An example form an organ that I play fairly regularly looks like this:
          Hauptwerk
          Prinzipal 8'
          Rohrflote 8
          Oktav 4'
          Waldflote 4'
          Quinte 2-2/3'
          Oktav 2'
          Mixtur IV
          Trompete 8'
          Klaine 4'

          Ruckpositiv
          Gedeckt 8'
          Prinzipal 4'
          Koppel 4'
          Nasat 2-2/3'
          Oktav 2'
          Blockflote 2'
          Terz 1-3/5'
          Quinte 1-1/3
          Oktavin 1'
          Scharff III
          Krummhorn 8'

          You will notice that all of the principals on the Ruckpositiv are an octave higher than their counterparts on the Hauptwerk. This is so that if there is a repeated section in the music, you can play it at an octave higher to provide contrast to the rest of the peice.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by APipeOrganist View Post
            Another thing to note is that a Positiv will often be pitched an octave higher than the Great or Hauptwerk. For instance, if the main division of the organ has a principal chorus that has a 16' base (lowest sounding stop of diapason tone), then the Positiv would have a base of 8' tone. Similarly, if the base is at 8' pitch, then the Positiv would have a principal at 4' pitch, but no 8' stop. An example form an organ that I play fairly regularly looks like this:
            Hauptwerk
            Prinzipal 8'
            Rohrflote 8
            Oktav 4'
            Waldflote 4'
            Quinte 2-2/3'
            Oktav 2'
            Mixtur IV
            Trompete 8'
            Klaine 4'

            Ruckpositiv
            Gedeckt 8'
            Prinzipal 4'
            Koppel 4'
            Nasat 2-2/3'
            Oktav 2'
            Blockflote 2'
            Terz 1-3/5'
            Quinte 1-1/3
            Oktavin 1'
            Scharff III
            Krummhorn 8'

            You will notice that all of the principals on the Ruckpositiv are an octave higher than their counterparts on the Hauptwerk. This is so that if there is a repeated section in the music, you can play it at an octave higher to provide contrast to the rest of the peice.
            Does this neccarly mean that this pipe organ a church organ or does the presence determine if a pipe organ is a church organ or not. what i am asking if a concert organ can have a postiv?
            Instruments:
            22/8 Button accordion.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by APipeOrganist View Post
              Another thing to note is that a Positiv will often be pitched an octave higher than the Great or Hauptwerk. For instance, if the main division of the organ has a principal chorus that has a 16' base (lowest sounding stop of diapason tone), then the Positiv would have a base of 8' tone. Similarly, if the base is at 8' pitch, then the Positiv would have a principal at 4' pitch, but no 8' stop. An example form an organ that I play fairly regularly looks like this:
              Hauptwerk
              Prinzipal 8'
              Rohrflote 8
              Oktav 4'
              Waldflote 4'
              Quinte 2-2/3'
              Oktav 2'
              Mixtur IV
              Trompete 8'
              Klaine 4'

              Ruckpositiv
              Gedeckt 8'
              Prinzipal 4'
              Koppel 4'
              Nasat 2-2/3'
              Oktav 2'
              Blockflote 2'
              Terz 1-3/5'
              Quinte 1-1/3
              Oktavin 1'
              Scharff III
              Krummhorn 8'

              You will notice that all of the principals on the Ruckpositiv are an octave higher than their counterparts on the Hauptwerk. This is so that if there is a repeated section in the music, you can play it at an octave higher to provide contrast to the rest of the peice.
              Huh, I wasn't aware of that. Is the same true between a great and a swell?

              Comment


                #8
                Yes, an organ outside a church can have a Positiv--can be a concert organ, or a home organ, or an organ in a church. Positiv in this sense refers to "position". There are Ruck Positiv organs (at the back of the organist) and Brust Positiv organs (in the breast of the organ). A Brust Positiv is more likely to be pitched higher than a Ruck Positiv, since in the "breast" of the organ, there isn't a lot of space for tall pipes.

                Classically, the Great would be at one pitch, the 2nd division an octave, higher, and the 3rd division yet another octave higher; but there are no organ police to enforce this. The approach exists because of its musical usefulness.

                The Pedal is supposed to be pitched an Octave lower than the Great.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by cantor828 View Post

                  Huh, I wasn't aware of that. Is the same true between a great and a swell?
                  This difference in pitches occurs in Baroque organs in northern Europe, as part of the style of organbuilding called the Werkprinzip. As history has gone on, the purposes, names, and placement of the divisions of the organ has changed. Most swell divisions in a modern English or American organ either have a principal chorus at 8' or only a single 4' octave geigen and maybe a mixture.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Interesting little bit of history, how the "chair" organ became the "choir" organ ... Apparently some have taken that corrupted name and run with it though. When in England we often drop in for a visit at a little church called St. Mary's in the village of Thirsk in North Yorkshire. There is a pipe organ in the church, not a huge or grand one, but serviceable.

                    The local ladies who were greeting tourists at the church on our last visit kindly let me play it after I told them I was a church organist back home. The lowest of the three manuals plays a chest full of pipes, about six or eight ranks as I recall, not under expression, just mounted out in the open on the wall next to where the choir sits, at one side of the chancel. And, you guessed it, this division is labeled "CHOIR."

                    I once dealt with an organist who was adamant that the division labeled as a "positiv" on the new Allen organ we'd installed at his church shortly before his tenure was NOT a positiv, but in fact a CHOIR. He asserted this because the division contained a celeste and was under expression. His view was that a genuine positiv would be a purely classical division without any romantic elements and that it would not be under expression. He made the dealer order new divisional labels and all the rocker tabs in the coupler rail that referred to the "positiv," and I had to change them out!

                    Best I could tell, changing the tabs didn't change the sound of the organ though...
                    John
                    ----------
                    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
                    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
                    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
                    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
                    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jbird604 View Post
                      Best I could tell, changing the tabs didn't change the sound of the organ though...
                      Perhaps, only in his mind

                      Comment


                      • voet
                        voet commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Like the placebo effect in medicine.

                      #12
                      The Johannus digital at my church has a “Positif” with: 8’ Principal, 8’ Bourdon, 4’ Octave, 4’ Flute, 2 2/3’ Nazard, 2’ Flute, 1 3/5’ Tierce, 1’ Octave, Cymbale III, and 8’ Regal for pipe stops. It is also under it’s own expression. I am so used to the Choir on other organs and often wondered where all this originated. This thread has been very interesting. Thanks for the history lesson.

                      Comment


                        #13
                        An interesting topic. I hauled out various books to read up on "Positive". Here are some basic thoughts. Note that I'll stick to certain spellings, though others are optional.

                        In the beginning, there was no organ.

                        Then there were small ones:
                        - the PORTATIV, so called because it was portable, i.e. "able to be carried.' Commonly one rank, held on your lap or suspended by a strap from your shoulder, keys played with the right hand, bellows pumped with the left hand, open flue pipes, less than two octaves. It could be played while walking.
                        - the POSITIV, so called because it was too big to carry and had to be positioned somewhere. 1 to 4 ranks of flues, played with both hands, bellows pumped by a second person (or possibly the player's own feet?) Eventually, a pull-down pedal for some portion of the lowest end of the manual.
                        - the REGAL, containing a single rank of reed pipes, Small range, reeds had short-length resonators, played with both hands, bellows pumped by a second person, very portable but not played while moving.

                        GROWTH - the Positiv became larger and developed into the BLOCKWERK, an instrument with one manual and multiple ranks, no means of selecting individual ranks, everything played all the time, sometimes a pull-down pedal, eventually an independent pedal division. The Blockwerk itself developed to a point where it could have more keyboards - the one listed by Praetorius (Halberstadt, 1361) had 3 keyboards:
                        - the 1st played Prinzipal 16' + Hintersatz 32' (up to 56 ranks);
                        - the 2nd played that same Prinzipal 16' by itself;
                        - the 3rd functioned as a bass, playing a Prinzipal 32';
                        - the 4th (Pedal) played the above-mentioned Prinzipal 32' + Hintersatz 16' (up to 24 ranks).
                        The compass of each of these keyboards was less than 2 octaves. Keys were probably heavy enough that you could play one with each hand (two-part playing) or additional one with each foot (3- or 4-part). The 2nd and 3rd keyboards were each attached to a single windchest; the 1st and 4th keyboards were each attached to one of these windchests PLUS a second one, which is how the 2nd keyboard played the 16' alone while the 1st keyboard played the 16' PLUS the other ranks.

                        In whatever manner the Blockwerk organ was used, people still relied on the Positiv for accompanying smaller ensembles of voices and/or instruments. A church might have several Positivs placed around the building for various purposes. In time, a Positiv was positioned behind the bench of the Blockwerk - the organist sat on the same bench, but turned around to play one instrument or the other. Eventually, a means was found to make the Positiv playable without having to turn around.

                        There are examples of an earlier Blockwerk (built in one architectural style) having a Ruckpositiv added at a later date (decorated according to the rules of the later style period.)

                        Both Positiv and Regal were added to the Blockwerk over time. Commonly, the Positive (still based on flue pipes) was at the organist's back, hence Ruckpositiv and the Regal was placed above the keyboards and below the Blockwerk pipes in what has become known as the Brustwerk - the division in the breast of the instrument. This explains why the Brustwerk has some of the most colorful reeds.

                        In various places and various times, the relationship of the various divisions has changed. Hans Klotz refers to large and small Positivs when they are built as part of a larger organ. The smaller Positiv would provide lighter solo or accompaniment stops, but not be able to hold its own against the Hauptwerk. The large Positiv would have enough power to balance the Hauptwerk.

                        "Werk" is roughly translated into English as "division." "Positiv" would be, too, but additionally defines the division as being secondary in some way. It is possible to find organs with a "Hauptpositiv", but a "Hauptwerk" is much more common. It is normal to see either a Ruckpositiv or Ruckwerk, a Brustposiriv or Brustwerk. These designations simply show position of the division, either at the back of the organist or in the breast of the organ. Two more similar divisions - the Oberwerk is over or above the Hauptwerk and the Kronwerk crowns everything off by being at the very top of the organ case. I'm also vaguely recalling a Hinterwerk (behind) or Nebenwerk (beside) the Hauptwerk. In more modern times, the English Swell division could be found as a German Schwellwerk.

                        As the organ developed in each region, it had to fulfill functions particular to its locations, so it adapted accordingly and parts originally named according to the Latin or German system acquired new names.

                        Sorry for all the words, but the evolution is complex, over time and in different places, so the path of development is not simple.
                        Last edited by regeron; 09-10-2019, 11:44 AM. Reason: Correction about Hauptpositiv.

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                          #14
                          I think it was in one of Gordon Reynolds' entertaining books on the organ that he describes the Positif section as "a division voiced so as to make up for all the missing consonants from the choir"......!

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